Speeches at World Forum 2012
Some of the Prominent Guests speeches at World Forum Against Drugs in Stockholm 21-23th of May 2012. Among them H.M. Queen Silvia.
Photos: PERNILLA RÖNNLID & SVEN LILJESSON
Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson, International President, World Federation Against Drugs Speech at World Forum Against Drugs, Opening Session, Monday, 21th May 2012
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Honored Guests, Prominent Speakers and Moderators, Distinguished Delegates and Friends. Welcome to Stockholm and the third World Forum Against Drugs.
My name is Sven-Olov Carlsson, and I am president of the World Federation Against Drugs.
Firstly, I would like to thank our musician Dennis Camits for his wonderful singing at this official inauguration of the 3rd World Forum Against Drugs. It was a very nice start to the conference. Thanks!
Four years ago, 2008, the first World Forum Against Drugs took place here in Stockholm. One of our major goals with the Forum was to reach out to non-governmental organizations on all continents and invite their members to a world conference where they could share experiences and talk about a vision of a drug free world. The Forum was a success.
One of the outcomes of the first Forum was that The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) was established 2009 as a global non-governmental organization.
In 2010 World Federation Against Drugs organized the 2nd World Forum Against Drugs.
The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is a global multilateral community of non-governmental organizations and individuals. The aim of WFAD is to work for a drug-free world. The members of World Federation Against Drugs share a common concern that illicit drug use is undercutting traditional values and threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions throughout the world.We have since 2009, when World Federation Against Drugs was founded, built a global network of non-governmental organizations and individuals and today we have more than 70 non-governmental organizations as members.
The work of the World Federation Against Drugs is built on the principles of universal fellowship and basic human and democratic rights. We believe that working for a drug-free World will promote peace and human development and dignity, democracy, tolerance, equality, freedom and justice.World Federation Against Drugs bases its work on the UN Conventions. Experience tells us that a balanced and restrictive drug policy limits the problem of drug abuse. The key to success is to prevent the problem, the success of treatment is rather limited although treatment must be a part of a balanced policy.
Misuse of illicit drugs is normally initiated in close friendship relations at a relatively early stage of the drug "career". Therefore it must be a top priority to work with early intervention for a drug policy to be successful in order to limit the spread of misuse of illicit drugs.
The strength of the international drug control system is its universality.But drug policies are too important to be left to drug experts and to governments alone. It is a society-wide responsibility that requires society-wide engagement. This means working with children, starting from parents and teachers, to ensure that they develop self-esteem. This means supporting family-based programmes because prevention begins at home. This means advocacy. As non-governmental organizations we can play a crucial and a very important role in this matter.
We will now have three days together to listen to speeches in plenary and special sessions, and do a lot of networking in between. All of that will be very exciting for me and my fellow organizers. I hope it will be equally exiting and interesting for all of you too.
This World Forum Against Drugs is the 3rd of its kind. The Forum is a result of much hard work done by the many people involved, but we could not have done it without generous financial support from the Swedish government, the Ministry of Health and the City of Stockholm. We are also very grateful to the private companies that have sponsored the Forum.
I would like to express our sincere thanks to Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden for her strong commitment to work against Drugs and her support to World Federation Against Drugs during the years. I would like to thank Her Majesty in particular for her willingness and support in being the patron for this 3rd World Forum Against Drugs as well as the Forum’s we organized in 2008 and 2010. Her Majesty’s support has been very important and is highly valuated.
It is now my honour and privilege to give the floor to Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden to formally open the 3rd World Forum Against Drugs. Thank you.
Opening speech by H.M. Queen Silvia
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very happy to be here to address you at this third World Forum Against Drugs. Throughout my life I have held a firm belief that the key to a world where people can be happy, healthy and fulfilled is based on how we bring up and treat our children. How do we help them to grow and develop to have dignity, respect and the opportunity to achieve their potential as human beings?
At the same time we know there are many obstacles that our young people face in a world that often reflects the unwelcome side of humanity with its greed, cruelty and selfishness. Drugs are often the vehicle of this unwelcome exhibition of human nature. The outcome of growing, trading, distribution and selling of drugs, both legal and illegal substances, is that they can end up in the hands of our youngsters and cause untold misery to those children, their friends, families and communities.
Do you know that "every three minutes, someone dies as a result of illicit drug use"; that "in the USA someone dies from misuse of prescription drugs every nineteen minutes"; that "harmful use of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths each year"; and that "an estimated 150 million people use tobacco and that 75 million of these will die prematurely as a result of tobacco use."
Staggering statistics. And human lives and suffering are the reality behind the numbers.
The issue is an international one. What is grown and produced in one country can affect the lives of children not only there but around the world. We need international solutions.
There are no easy answers to what is a major health issue. A response is required to address the growing and supply of drugs reaching young people; a continued focus to support and treat those who fall victim to drug abuse; but it also needs increased efforts and investment in education and prevention of drug abuse.
We have to educate to achieve prevention. We have to do this by offering our young people the skills and abilities to be protected from those factors that cause them to become involved. We need to consider the risk factors that often contribute to drug use; we have to provide healthy alternatives and opportunities for our young people that will help them to develop with the hope, intention and capability to live a meaningful, healthy and happy life. We know that prevention is not only better than cure but it is cheaper! For every $1 we spend on effective prevention we will save $18 that would otherwise have to be spent on treatment.
My involvement with two international charities, The World Childhood Foundation and The Mentor Foundation, has reflected this concern for young people and for the need to focus on them. In particular they address the issues surrounding drug abuse and how we can prevent involvement with drugs and achieve a healthy and meaningful life.
This conference allows us to reflect and recommit to this focus on our young people and how we can best address the issue of drugs in our policies and practice. Whether we do this from the perspective of our concern for young people in Brazil, Colombia, USA or here in Sweden I would like to suggest our reference point should be the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Such "Conventions" can often be seen as mere words. Our job is to ensure they are translated into policy and practice.
I would therefore like to close with three references from the UNICEF summary of the Rights of the Child Convention and ask us all to consider if what we are doing and planning reflects that we are translating theory into practice. It is a challenge that we can all respond to as governments, organisations or individuals.
The first statement is:
• Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
And I suggest is not just governments - but how well are we doing in achieving this laudable aim?
• Governments should use all means possible to protect children from the use of harmful drugs and from being used in the drug trade.
All means possible? Do we really invest as much as we should in education and prevention efforts for our young people?
• The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.
The primary concern is the best interests of our children and the decisions we make in their best interests - they are our global family of children and they are our responsibility.
I am sure that this Forum will conduct its deliberations with these three key points in mind and ensure that what we say, but more importantly, what we do, will be the best for our children both now and in the future. I trust it will lead to a world where young people are free from the harm that drugs can cause and give them the wherewithal to find health, fulfilment, dignity and happiness in their lives.
Speech by Ms. Maria LARSSON at the opening session of World Forum Against Drugs, at Munchenbryggeriet in Stockholm, the 21 May 2012.
Your Majesty, Mr Carlsson, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Her Majesty Queen Silvia for participating here today.
Personally I really appreciate your clear commitment in this and many other issues related to social responsibility, especially where children are involved.
Let me also say welcome to you all to Stockholm! We can offer sun and warmth and quite nice summer weather, for the moment. But because of the latitude we also have snow during a dark winter. Swedes belong to the people who live longest in the world. Every second child born today will become over one hundred years old. And we have a welfare system and a living standard for which we are very proud and grateful.
But just like everywhere else, there are also social problems. In this city and in our country there is homelessness, criminality, child abuse and neglect. Behind a part of these social problem there are illicit drugs. Behind a large part of the premature deaths of swedes and behind organized crime – lays narcotic drugs.
One kilometer from here is one of Stockholms´ central meeting places where drugs are sold. Some people visit this and other open market places to buy narcotics. Others do it in bars and night clubs. But nowadays, drugs are also transported and sold under new circumstances. Vendors and buyers meet in new ways and with new tools and Internet plays a significant role for marketing. It´s more easy to buy Cannabis or synthetic drugs than ever before. And young people do. But the effects are the same as before. This is the background in which we meet these days in Stockholm.
The health and welfare of mankind is at the heart of the international drug control conventions. They balance the need for narcotic drugs for the relief of pain against the necessity to protect individuals and societies from the harm that such drugs cause when they are used without a doctor’s prescription. Drug abuse limits human potential and diminishes the freedom to choose and often it leads to addiction. At stake here is both the dignity and the health of the individual. I see this as a human rights issue. We recognize the inherent dignity of every human being by doing all we can to prevent illicit use of drugs.
The organizations and individuals who question the international drug control conventions don´t see it like this. For them, a restrictive drug policy equals a punitive policy and the fight against drugs equals war. They do not recognize that a drug policy based on the premises of the international drug conventions is humane, balanced and restrictive in nature. But that´s the way it is because it recognizes the addictive nature of narcotic drugs. That´s the way it is because it aims at protecting the health and dignity of the individual.
Prevention must be at the core of such a policy. To protect young people from being exposed to drugs is to work for dignity and health. When we discuss prevention we must also see how narcotic drugs relate to other substances.
The objective must be to tackle the totality of problems caused by the use and abuse of substances such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Both for the individual but also for society at large. We must learn to see the common factors underlying the origins of the problems and their solutions. Some may reply that alcohol and tobacco are legal products while illicit drugs are illegal. And that´s correct.
But today we know that the risk factors to start to use narcotic drugs, to drink alcohol at an early age and to start smoking are similar. In prevention, we also know that the protective factors are similar. The prospects of changing behavior patterns and norms are greater if measures are taken in a number of different areas and if actors work together.
An important motive for prevention where we focus on all the substances, is that it puts the individual in center. It puts the child, the parents and the family in center. And this brings me to another argument why human rights and the right to dignity should be our argument. It is because it must be the individuals who are affected by drug abuse which must be the focus of our attention. Proponents of drug legalization use the respect for the rights of drug users as one of their main arguments for rewriting the current conventions. Our argument is that we recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable health.
It is important, indeed to guarantee equal rights to health services for everybody, including people who are addicted to drugs. But to merely limit the harms associated with drug abuse is not sufficient. We have higher ambitions than that. We want to break the cycle of dependence through offering a variety of treatment services, aiming at full recovery and eventually, a drug free life. Therefore, to be offered treatment and care is a question of the right to health and the right to dignity.
No one of us, I am sure, would recommend a close relative only clean needles or give them a map to find the closest injection room. Just to limit the harm caused by the addiction. No, we do all strive for a life to live which is free from drugs. That is what we want for ourselves and for our children. Why shouldn´t this also be the case for the one who is addicted? So the issue of addiction is fundamentally a moral issue and an issue of responsibility. Among addicts there are also many who are parents. And their children have the same right as other children to grow up in circumstances free from the effects of drug abuse.
I am also the minister for childrens´ rights. One of the most important obligations for society is to protect children and young people from harm to their physical and psychological development. This of course includes illicit drugs. That is why I want to remind us, when we speak of human rights, that we have legally binding obligations under international law, to promote and protect childrens´rights. Good living conditions does not include illicit drugs.
I know that other speakers will elaborate on the topic of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Let me just remind us that it is a duty to protect children from drugs according to article 33 of the Convention. Protection against drugs is therefore unquestionably a human rights issue. Protecting children from drug is not an option for States according to this convention, it is an obligation.
This year it is 100 years since the first multilateral drug control convention was agreed in the Hague. With this convention the principle of drug use only for medical and scientific purposes was enshrined in international law for the first time. But what we see today is that the premise of the conventions are called into question. Well-funded and very active organizations work to undermine the general agreements that we have achieved.
The arguments involve, as I have mentioned, human rights, they describe a failed war on drugs and they say that science is on their side. Their answers include liberalization, from some proponents even legalization.
Our response must be about freedom from drug addiction and misery. Our response must be about prevention, humane substance abuse treatment, about education, and about support and rehabilitation. And it must be about access to controlled, scientifically based methods of alleviating pain. Every time that I have participated at the meetings organized by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna I have met a coordinated campaign for this more liberal view on drugs.
Since Sweden belongs to the countries who oppose this development, we are considered to be a primary target for the drug liberalization movements. I am proud to be that. I know that we share this with several other countries.
Present here at the conference are high representatives from the United States, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and Italy. I am very happy that you are here.
We are all signatories to all three United Nations drug conventions. Through our participation at the UN-meetings we want to find ways to work together with each other as well as together with other like-minded countries. A problem which so obviously is global – must have a global response.
Our five countries had a meeting last night. We met to analyze the current international situation. To compare our impressions and to discuss possible ways to tackle these challenges. We also agreed on a statement where we show our will to work together and where a balanced and humane drug policy is the way forward. We will soon sign this statement at a press conference. And we invite more countries to join us.
Legalizing drugs is not an answer. To do that would make a big problem grow bigger. But we need better tools and better cooperation. this is the starting point for like-minded countries to be more active and become better organized.
With these words it is a great pleasure for the Swedish Government to welcome you in Stockholm and to this important conference.
OFFICIAL INAUGURATION, MAY 21, 2012
ROBERT L. DUPONT, M.D. – PREPARED REMARKS
Protecting human rights is the reason we are involved with drug prevention and treatment. We do that by protecting people from illicit drugs. The World Federation Against Drugs provides global leadership to the world’s NGOs as they develop better drug policies for the future. Our first priority is a real commitment to the rule of law, as all existent and ratified international conventions – including those related to human rights and drug control – are conducive to this goal: protect people from illicit drugs. Therefore, we need a determined focus on protecting children from illicit drugs and their many adverse effects. Drug use most commonly starts in childhood. The adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to drugs and when drug use starts early, it is most difficult to overcome. Protecting children from illicit drugs is not an option; it is a moral and legal obligation.
This is a critical moment for policy actions to protect children from illicit drugs because so many people have been bewildered in recent years by individuals and organizations whom we broadly can label as the anti-prohibitionist movement. They identify their strategy as "harm reduction.” They reject the more than 100 year-old global consensus to protect people from illicit drugs; in particular, they reject the drug-free goal in both prevention and treatment. Shockingly, they do this under the banner of human rights. The human right they seek to protect is the "right" of people, including children, to use drugs. In this misguided view, illegal drug users are seen as "victims" of efforts to protect people, including children, from drug use.
I will address the following primary arguments that the anti-prohibitionist movement uses to promote their agenda:
• Illicit drug users are the most vulnerable group in society.
• Drug use is a matter of privacy and the criminalization of illicit drugs is an invasion of the right to privacy.
• The UN Drug Conventions violate human rights, countering the right to health for drug users because they may obtain “bad” drugs on the black market or they might hesitate to seek care if they get sick knowing that they have done something illegal.
• Drug users are stigmatized and should be seen as a discriminated group.
• The Drug Conventions are violating the drug users’ right to harm reduction.
• Some countries apply the death penalty to drugs offenses; therefore the entire drug control international regime is compromised.
• “The war on drugs” is causing gross violations of human rights
• Children who use drugs are victimized by the justice system.
With this background, I was extremely pleased to read the book that is being launched at this World Forum authored by Roxana Stere, a Romanian doctoral student, and Stephan Dahlgren, a former UNICEF Head of Child Protection and a human rights expert for the United Nations Development Group Office and the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency.
Their book is based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or the CRC. The authors take an unprecedented in-depth look at drugs in relation to the United Nations human rights system and carefully examine the legal statements from 20 NGOs and five United Nations agencies. This work is a landmark in human rights in drug policy. It is unparalleled by any other document ever written.
The key legal finding of these legal scholars is that the CRC, in its Article 33, is the only core UN human rights instrument that mentions drugs. Article 33 must therefore be the starting point for any examination of drugs and human rights.
They reject the assertion that the starting point for these issues is found in the realm of harm reduction. Security does not trump the prohibition against torture. Similarly, harm-reduction does not trump the minimum standard clearly outlined in CRC Article 33. There can be no mistaking the meaning and intention of CRC Article 33. It is unequivocal. Article 33 of the CRC reads: “State Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.” This means that the world's children have an affirmative and essential right to a drug-free childhood. Further, it means that all of the nations of the world have a strict obligation to protect and defend that right.
Some have reproached me because the United States is one of only two countries that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the other country is Somalia); however, both countries signed the CRC. Article 33 of the CRC is fully compatible with the U.S. views on children and drugs across the entire political spectrum. The fact that the U.S. did not ratify the CRC has nothing whatsoever to do with Article 33. The U.S. shares the CRC’s vision on child protection matters and especially on the issue of protecting children from illicit drugs, as demonstrated by the following facts:
- The U.S. ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography which aims to further achieve the implementation of CRC provisions, especially including, among others, Article 33.
- The U.S. ratified the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour of 1999, which defines “the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs” as the worst forms of child labor, requesting that Each Member which ratifies this Convention to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor as a matter of urgency.
- And finally, the U.S. ratified all three Drug Conventions, among which the 1988 Convention specifically affirms the international community’s particular concern over “the fact that children are used in many parts of the world as an illicit drug consumers market and for purposes of illicit production, distribution and trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which entails a danger of incalculable gravity.” This concern for children finds substantive expression in two articles of the 1988 Convention.
The U.S. has been true throughout the years to its obligations stemming from these international instruments.
However, the subject of our present discussion is not the U.S. and the treaties it has ratified, but the message that permeates the CRC and all of these other highly ratified instruments: that children are the most vulnerable group in relation with illicit drugs and therefore, all children have the right to be protected from illicit drugs and involvement in the production and trafficking of such substances.
The CRC is the most ratified treaty within international law and human rights instruments and it is the only UN convention which reached near universal ratification with 140 signatories and 193 State Parties.
Therefore, in any discussion of drug policy, the first question to ask, based on CRC Article 33 – looking to the best interest of children – is, "How can we ensure that we are protecting all our children from any illicit drug use, production, and trafficking ?“ This is the minimum human rights standard issued by the CRC.
And now a human rights assessment...
"How do the anti-prohibitionist arguments previously listed conform to actual human rights law, and especially CRC Article 33?”
Over the last five to ten years, anti-prohibitionist NGOs have broadened their scope from talking about “people who cannot stop using drugs" (addicts), to include “people who do not want to stop using drugs” (any person who is using illicit drugs, addict or not, from a rich film star to someone in deprived circumstances). According to these NGOs, recreational illicit drug users must be seen as the most vulnerable group in society. These advocates seek to award any drug user the victim status – while their drug use continues – a status that human rights instruments today only award to very select groups such as trafficked women and children, political refugees, etc. These NGOs argue that drug users must be protected from the harmful physical and mental health effects of the illicit drugs they use and also be protected from the harms arising from drug control laws and policies without stopping their drug use.
This egregious hijacking of the human rights agenda to protect the “rights” of illegal drug users is one of the great travesties of our era. To consider breaking the laws of countries and of the international community as expressed in nine human rights treaties and three defining Drug Conventions (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Drugs of 1971, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988) as a human right is a perversion of the concept of human rights with catastrophic consequences for public health, for public safety, and for the lives and futures of children in all parts of the world today. Moreover, it is an affront to real victims (e.g. mutilated women, people who were on the wrong side of the color barrier in apartheid South Africa, people living with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities and nonetheless children victims of maltreatment, abuse and/or exploitative labor due to their own and their parents’ drug use).
So let us look at the human rights arguments by the anti-prohibitionist NGOs. When their arguments are applied to anything other than drug policy, we see how obviously wrong – and even bizarre – they are:
The drug user’s right to privacy: Would anyone faithful to human rights conclude that adult child pornography readers’ right to privacy trumps children's right to protection from sexual exploitation as contained in CRC Article 34? Of course not. Why should it be different for drug policy? Some NGOs suggest that children have a right to privacy to “protect” their drug use, as if drug use were an inherent right to health, as evidence-based, and as an obligation for every country to protect. Far from a human right, drug use is modern chemical slavery – a slavery that is all-too-often begun in childhood and a slavery that often lasts a lifetime.
The drug user’s right to health: While we try to ensure health and rehabilitation to people who break the law, as related Drug Convention stipulate, would anyone seriously suggest that policymakers give primary consideration to adults who buy sex and treat their child victims as an afterthought? Of course not.
Why should it be different for drug policy?
The drug user’s right to harm reduction: One can look long and hard but no such right is stipulated in any UN human rights instrument. Would anyone faithful to human rights suggest that we meet exploitative child labor or any form of child maltreatment with harm reduction? Of course not. Again, why should it be different for drug policy?
The drug user’s right to be protected from the death penalty: The Drug Conventions implore states to criminalize illicit production, trafficking, and possession of drugs for personal use. They certainly do not ask states to use the death penalty as punishment for any of these acts. On the contrary, the Commentary to the 1988 Convention clearly states that, “it is important to stress that the Convention seeks to establish a common minimum standard for implementation, there is nothing to prevent parties from adopting stricter measures than those mandated by the text should they think fit to do so, subject always to the requirement that such initiatives are consistent with applicable norms of public international law, in particular norms protecting human rights.”
The death penalty is no more an argument against the Drug Conventions than it is against the Trafficking Conventions or the Corruption Convention. Would anyone suggest that we should abolish the instruments regarding human trafficking because a UN member state decided to apply the death penalty to such crimes? Of course not. Why should it be different for drug policy?
The “war on drugs” is not called for by the Drug Conventions; it is a term only used by those who oppose prohibition, though to run a “war” on drugs is not prohibited by any human rights convention any more than is a war against poverty/racism/cancer or any other social or health cause. None of the NGOs examined in the forthcoming publication on the CRC Article 33 have defined what constitutes “the war on drugs” which they seek to stop. There is no definable legal meaning of this inflammatory term in the context of human rights.
The victimization of drug-using children by the criminal justice system: The CRC compels all states to protect children from entering the justice system no matter what crime they are accused of having committed. States have an obligation to divert children from going to court and going to jail. Children must be protected and rehabilitated. Children must be treated as children. This applies to drug crimes as well as to sexual crimes or any other type of crime. Would anyone faithful to human rights suggest that we shall abolish sanctions for all crimes because there could be cases where a child is the perpetrator? Of course not. No child should go to prison for drug crimes; rather, these children should receive support and rehabilitation.
In summary, there is not a coherent and intelligible human rights argument against the current UN Drug Conventions. On the contrary, the 1988 Drug Convention, which criminalizes possession of illicit drugs for personal use, which amounts to penalization of personal use, in its preamble sets out to protect children from drugs in essentially exactly the same words as CRC Article 33. That makes this and the other Drug Conventions complementary instruments to the CRC and an obligatory reference for policymakers’ adherence to human rights. The human rights discourse pursued by the anti-prohibitionist NGOs uses random existing – and some invented – human rights as a justification for the decriminalization and/or legalization of drugs in the interest of adult drug users. These NGOs studiously avoid CRC Article 33 – the only human rights instrument that deals with drugs. The fact that these NGOs want a drug policy that is user-centered instead of one that is child-centered, means that they are not seriously promoting human rights, but instead they are promoting dangerous political goals. Would they accept others masquerading their political goals as protecting human rights?
I urge everyone here at this WFAD Forum to read the excellent publication by Roxana Stere and Stephan Dahlgren. They identify the many misguided NGOs and policymakers at the UN who now are seeking to put the “rights” of illegal drug users above those of children's or any other legally established vulnerable groups’ rights to drug-free lives in drug policy. While the full impact of these NGOs cannot be measured, it is easy to see their influence throughout their many individual and joint publication and reports.
It is obvious that the global march towards drug decriminalization and ultimate legalization is being done under the flag of human rights. As harm reduction policies have progressively become more of a focus of contemporary drug policy, drug use has been presented as a protected human right in itself, even drug use by children.
The central focus on children in drug policy is essential because childhood is the most vulnerable age to drugs for well-understood biological reasons. Childhood is where drug use, or conversely, a drug-free lifestyle, often is established for the duration of a person’s lifetime. The drug dependence die is cast for the majority of people in childhood. Thus, the focus of all prevention must be protecting children from drugs, including their own use of drugs as well as from any involvement in the production and sale of drugs, and from drug use by the individuals responsible for their care. This right to a drug-free childhood under Article 33 is the responsibility not only of governments, but also of society as a whole.
The spectacular failure seen in the world today with very high rates of drug use by children in many countries is less a failure of children than it is a failure of adult stewardship for them – our world's most precious resource. At this 2012 Forum we learn much about the importance of mentorship towards young people. We must lead in mentorship both at home directly with children and through policy affecting them.
By focusing on Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the global community – with leadership from WFAD – has a powerful legal and intellectual basis for drug prevention in the 21st century. I encourage everyone at WFAD to read the CRC and its Article 33 and to refer to it as a chief basis for our prevention and policy efforts. This is not a matter of legalisms or of the close reading of arcane and obscure international document. The language of the CRC Article 33 is clear, convincing, and quite literally, lifesaving.
By putting into action the ringing language of CRC Article 33 we will prevent drug use and save lives. I urge everyone at WFAD and our colleagues abroad to do what we can to promote a balanced and restrictive drug policy for public health and for the protection of children. Citing Article 33 of the CRC we must build a drug policy to protect children. This must be the #1 priority for WFAD in the years to come.
Nowhere is the mantra “You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone” more true than in drug abuse prevention. Article 33 of the CRC is our guide and our inspiration. We must leave this meeting united in our determination to recruit NGOs from all over the world in this campaign to save our children from the slavery of drug use. Alone we are helpless; together we are unstoppable.
• Robert L. DuPont, M.D. is the founding President of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., a non-profit organization that that develops and uses a few powerful ideas to reduce illegal drug use, located in Rockville, Maryland USA (www.ibhinc.org). Previously he was the first Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and served as White House Drug Chief for both Presidents Nixon and Ford.
Through Global Development to the Victory over Drug Addiction. In Need of a Global Antidrug Front
Speech by Victor Ivanov at the World Forum Against Drugs, Münchenbryggeriet, Sweden, May 20, 2012
Dear Forum Organizers and Participants,
First of all I’d like to thank Her Majesty for her invitation to the Forum and for her brilliant speech at the opening of the Forum.
It is impossible to overestimate the role of the World Forum, which nowadays has undoubtedly become a force to consolidate the world community, to form a global antidrug agenda and to oppose the global threat of drug legalization and rejection of the basic antidrug conventions developed over the past one hundred years.
For the past year we can actually observe a burst of legalization initiatives, where a proposal “to solve the problem quickly” is made by presidents of individual countries (Guatemala, for instance) or, like it was a month ago, by a former director of the British Intelligence Service MI-6.
It is more than illustrative that the so-called Global Drug Politics Commission, which directly promotes drug legalization, last year hit upon the idea to present its definitely provocative and favoring drug legalization report on the 1st of June – on the International Children’s Day!
No doubt this large-scale and highly aggressive PR-campaign on drug propaganda is directly or indirectly related to enormous drug business income estimated by experts as 800 billion US dollars per year.
The mentioned report should be unambiguously regarded as a kind of a manifest of drug legalization supporters. If we compare the report of the so-called Global Commission and the Declaration of the World Forum-2008, we will see two absolutely opposite positions, two incompatible doctrines, between which a keen and merciless fight is building up.
The objective of drug legalization supporters is to legalize transnational organized crime, a global criminal international, to make drug trafficking smooth and comfortable.
Their primary task is to break international unity in terms of protection of all international hard law secured in the UN profile conventions.
Meanwhile activities of legalization supporters are perfectly organized. Thus, for the past three years the number of sites which support drug legalization, without taking into account global direct web networks, at least doubled.
It is also becoming evident that one is trying to make Latin America, where several countries of that particular region are initiating significant concessions to drug legalization supporters, a locomotive of the global drug legalization movement.
It is indicative that the Latin American Commission for Drug and Democracy Concerns, which actually sticks to legalization objectives, became a pilot project and transformed into the above-mentioned Global Commission for Drug Politics, probably, if I may say so, to transfer “know-how” from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern one, i.e. to the whole world.
It is a highly dangerous tendency, and our Forum must unambiguously express our negative opinion of it.
We are obviously facing a perfectly organized, generously paid, deeply defended and propagandized drug front, and our obligation is to oppose it and to set up our own Global Antidrug Front.
I believe that the Declaration of the first World Forum Against Drugs (2008) very precisely defined drug addiction as “a modern form of slavery”. In the beginning of the 21st century and of the 3rd millenium we must prevent recognition of slavery as a normal phenomenon. We must advocate the matter of freedom, truly democratic values and all those who are against return of slavery.
In this situation it seems pressing and expedient to set up a community of friends of the UN antidrug conventions under the World Forum. I kindly ask you, dear participants in this Forum, to give support to my proposal.
Today the UN antidrug conventions are a kind of major quarantine activities against the epidemic of global drug addiction specified by an unprecedented (in the world history) scope of the drug business and formation of classically paradigmatic, in fact, two global drug production centers and appropriate drug trafficking.
As far back as in 1998 the founder of the Swedish antidrug model, an outstanding thinker, organizer and enthusiast Niels Beirut warned the humanity: “Fighting against drug addiction epidemics will be probably decisive for survival of contemporary legal and welfare states. Development towards further drug abuse will inevitably result in disintegration of society and chaos.”
At the same time experts and public leaders of antidrug politics realize that besides the protection of long-term achievements in drug combatting, it is necessary nowadays to intensively develop a new antidrug model of activities, since along with sweeping changes in societies and social life principles, the very nature of drug addiction and drug crime has drastically changed in the world, so today we have to deal with fundamentally new challenges and threats for both individual countries/regions and the world and international security on the whole.
Let me briefly outline the main threats and immediately offer a package of five principal solutions.
Firstly. It is necessary to introduce a new notion of antidrug security to the international and national security system – a notion which would be able to reproduce appropriate instruments against an actually new threat, i.e. crime globalization based on sustainable and long-term operation of two global drug production centers: the South American one in the Western Hemisphere and the Afghan one in the Eastern Hemisphere, as well as on respective drug trafficking. It’s them that have created and have been supporting the totally globe-entangling network drug transit which corrupts economic and political processes in terms of growing crime and violence.
For that very reason there is a great need in essential resolutions of the UN Security Council, beyond validity of which we would be actually disarmed against drug addiction globalization as an induced global epidemic.
It is necessary to revise our attitude to the phenomenon of Afghan drug production, which has lately exceeded mere drug growing and production and has turned into a predominant factor of the global financial and economic crisis as well as of the international situation in general.
At this moment, I would like to call your attention to one outrageous fact.
A group of experts in toxicology headed by prominent Professor of the University of Florida Dr. Bruce Goldberger made a statement that the current generation of Afghan children is doomed, since all of them are typical opium and heroin addicts. The scientists have registered unprecedentedly high drug levels of drugs in children’s blood.
Hazardous concentrations of drugs are contained not only in the smoke of adult smokers, whose number exceeded one million a long time ago, but also in clothing, beddings, carpets, furniture, as well as in breast milk of nursing mothers.
It is registered that if those children do not get a drug, they begin to suffer from the withdrawal syndrome.
Thus, a 10-year-old girl’s hair sample contained 5607 pg/mg of a heroin metabolite, 8350 pg/mg of morphine and 4654 pg/mg of codeine, corresponding to parameters of a medically diagnosed adult drug addict.
No comment here.
It is high time to qualify Afghan drug production as a threat to international peace and security as per Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
Secondly. We need antidrug diplomacy as a principally new national and international activity. Let me emphasize once again the role of our World Forum, which has become a kind of headquarters of non-governmental antidrug diplomacy. I’d deem it timely and very important to arrange an Antidrug Summit of the leading countries of the world. 6
Thirdly. Global antidrug politics should be based on the fact that drug production has become an indispensable component of the shadow financial system which is generating a deadly global crisis.
The mounting global financial and economic crisis and a speculative and parasitic economy are directly linked to criminal drug income, since such black drug money lets a number of big banks cope with liquidity shortages that are lethal for them.
To prevent the crisis from escalating to a catastrophe we must knock the financial basis out of it by liquidating global drug production centers.
Fourthly. It is time to focus on organization and methods of social rehabilitation and re-socialization. Drug addiction is nearly the main stimulant of social and anthropological degradation of societies and human capital undermining.
The world should combine all advanced theories and methods of human existence renaissance via multiple social politics of organizing the reproduction and development of national and transnational positive communities.
I suggest organizing a special conference on new methods of social rehabilitation and re-socialization under the auspices of the World Forum. 7
Fifthly. It is necessary to resolutely supplement the most important measures of police repressions, drug prevention and drug addicts rehabilitation with a stake on alternative development.
It is obvious nowadays that alternative development is the best primary prevention of drug production.
In this context we’d like to welcome from this tribune the Peruvian President’s decision to hold an antidrug forum in late June in Lima which will focus on alternative development, as well as an expert conference in the same place in November. It is through alternative development that one of the key human rights – the right for development – is enjoyed.
The right for development is a fundamental UN right stipulated in the Declaration on the Right for Development, which was adopted by Resolution 41/128 dated December 4, 1986 of the General Assembly and is secured by a set of measures promoting social progress and development on the basis of on the Declaration of Social Progress and Development proclaimed by Resolution 2542 (XXIV) dated December 11, 1969 of the General Assembly.
It seems necessary to consolidate around the alternative development challenge and exercise of the right for development, which is not just systematically undermined by the drug abuse, but where drug abuse itself is in fact an integral spawn of non-development.
Today we can see how powerful our antidrug front is. And we should pass to victories over drugs, to resolutely reject decadent moods and conciliation with the drug mafia’s initiatives.
We shall win.
Statement of the Government of the United States of America
World Federation Against Drugs
Delivered by R. Gil Kerlikowske
Director of National Drug Control Policy
“Principles of Modern Drug Policy”
Thank you, Mr. Carlsson, for that introduction and for your work year-round in building the World Federation Against Drugs into a global movement for public health and safety. It is my great pleasure to be with you here today. WFAD is a unique and vitally important forum. I am honored to be here to share the views of the United States.
This is a critical time in our global debate on drug policy. It’s fitting that we are gathered in Sweden, a country with one of the most instructive and diverse drug policy experiences in the history of the field.
Nearly fifty years ago, the government of Sweden undertook a social experiment in Stockholm that today’s drug legalization advocates have suggested: “legal prescription” of drugs for addicts under government and medical supervision. The experiment quickly became problematic as participants began to divert the narcotics into illicit markets, fueling drug abuse. Near the experimental project’s end in 1967, it was found that the proportion of arrestees showing signs of intravenous drug use had risen in Stockholm 65% from 1965. Shortly thereafter, the program was terminated.(1)
Sweden’s experience in drug liberalization is especially poignant today. Over the past few years, I’ve seen the debate about drug control lurch between two extremes. On one hand are people who suggest that drug legalization is the “silver bullet” solution to drug control. But we don’t have to guess how that would turn out—the lessons of a laissez faire approach to drug laws here in Sweden have not been forgotten.
On the other hand are people who believe that a “War on Drugs” law enforcement centric mentality still drives the U.S. approach to drug policy, and that success is measured by the number of arrests made or prisons built.
The truth is, neither of these approaches is humane, effective, or grounded in evidence. That is why the Obama Administration supports a “third way” approach to drug control—one that is based on the results of a huge investment in research from some of the world’s preeminent scholars on disease of substance abuse.
We believe in the efficacy of this “third way” approach because balanced drug policies such as those in Sweden have accomplished much for the countries that have implemented them.
In the United States, we have also made significant progress, particularly with regard to cocaine. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of current cocaine use in the United States has declined by 40 percent over the past 5 years. This unprecedented reduction in overall cocaine use has been accompanied by lower rates of cocaine use among young people; significant declines in the number of arrestees testing positive for cocaine in many U.S. cities; and historic reductions in the rates of adults testing positive for cocaine in the workplace. These reductions in use translate into decreased harm to our citizens from cocaine. In fact, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there has been a 42 percent reduction in the number of cocaine overdoses in the United States from 2006 to 2009.
On the global level, the fact that we are all gathered today to learn from each other is an achievement in itself. We owe a debt of gratitude to WFAD for bringing us together. We also should be pleased about the advances in medical science that allow us to better understand how to effectively treat drug addiction. This growing knowledge has helped millions of citizens around the world to overcome their substance use disorders and to sustain their recovery. When I visit treatment centers and talk with patients, both in the United States and around the world, I am deeply moved by the personal journeys of many who have broken free from the grip of addiction and reclaimed their lives. Every year in the United States, during the month of September, we celebrate those in recovery from addiction with marches and rallies. It is truly inspiring to walk among the thousands of people in recovery and leading healthy, productive lives.
In spite of the progress we have made, the public debate on drug policy increasingly lurches between two extreme views. On one side there are very vocal, organized, and well-funded advocates who insist that drug legalization is a “silver bullet” for addressing the global drug problem. Often presenting these policies as “bold reforms,” many of these advocates are pursuing these policies in support of the ideology that the use of illegal drugs is a fundamental right of the individual, and that the criminal justice system should serve no role in disrupting the markets for illegal drugs.
On the other side of the debate are those who insist on a one-sided, law-enforcement-driven “War on Drugs” approach. Continually filling our prisons with drug users, the logic goes, will at some point in the future just make the drug problem go away.
I will be the first to say that in the past the United States—along with many other countries—has historically been too slow to build out our public heath infrastructure to ensure that evidence-based prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery services are available to all those that need them. However, over the past decade there has been an explosion of useful research on the science behind drug addiction and treatment effectiveness. Based on this knowledge the Obama Administration is working hard to both expand and, at the same time, continually evaluate and improve these health services.
That is why last month we released a National Drug Control Strategy that pursues a “third way” for our Nation to approach drug control. This approach emphasizes prevention and treatment, while employing the criminal justice system to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of incarceration. Already, over the past three years, we have spent more on drug prevention and treatment than we have on U.S. drug law enforcement and incarceration. With the passage of our national health reform act, we will also be requiring our health care industry to treat substance use disorders the same way they would any other chronic disease, providing a revolutionary boost to our work to intervene early before drug use ever becomes a criminal justice issue.
Still, we must do more. We must back up our advocacy for public health interventions by developing sufficient capacity and devoting more resources to help the many that remain in need.
Further, the United States and other developed countries must not only provide these health services to our own citizens, but we must also help our international partners develop their own demand reduction capacities. My Nation, which is responsible for funding about 85 percent of the world’s research on drug use, can and will do more to share what we learn with our partners. Of course, we have long provided assistance to our partners in the areas of drug interdiction, law enforcement, and drug crop eradication—these important programs will continue.
In fact, we are working with our international partners in drug source and transit nations to update and improve international law enforcement and supply reduction programs. But we must also look at ways to expand the sharing of demand reduction best practices, technical and professional exchanges, and capacity building programs.
As part of our effort to promote drug policies for the 21st Century, today we are publicly releasing a new document, entitled “Principles of Modern Drug Policy,” which will explain in straightforward language what we stand for—a “third way” that rejects the false choice between an enforcement-centric “war on drugs” and the extreme notion of drug legalization. The document lays out an approach that recognizes the continuing role of the UN Conventions—in their current form—as a solid basis for the development of new, evidence-based, and modern approaches to reducing drug use and its consequences in the 21st century. I hope you find the document of use and will share it with your friends and colleagues.
The document—attached in full to the printed copy of this speech—has ten principles. They cover the full spectrum of drug issues. I would like to discuss four of these principles in detail in the few moments I have left to speak today and refer you to the full document for the others.
•We Must Ensure Balanced, Compassionate, and Humane Drug Policies.
Modern drug policies must acknowledge that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Public health and public safety initiatives are complementary and equally vital to achieving reductions in drug use and its consequences. The drug policy challenge facing the world today is not a choice between an enforcement-only “war on drugs” on the one hand and the notion of drug legalization on the other. Rather, the challenge lies in combining cost-effective, evidence-based approaches that protect public health and safety.
There should be no doubt that helping those with substance use disorders break free from addiction is compassionate and humane. Maintaining legal restrictions on drugs is fundamental to a public health approach to reducing the disease of addiction. Our approach aims to prevent the onset of drug use, while, at the same time, providing access to health services for those that need them.
•We Must Protect Human Rights.
Respect for human rights is an integral part of drug policy. Citizens, especially children, have the right to be safe from illegal drug use and associated crime, violence, and other consequences—whether in their family or the community. Drug-involved offenders who have contact with the criminal justice system deserve to be supervised with respect for their basic human rights and be provided with services to treat their underlying substance use disorder.
By reducing drug use we are protecting the human rights of our citizens, particularly children. At the same time, we have to be careful not to make ourselves vulnerable to the charge of violating the human rights of those whose substance use has led them to be brought under criminal justice supervision. All those who have a substance use disorder should receive evidence-based treatment services, whether in prison, on probation, or in the general population. We must be extremely careful not to confuse punishment with treatment. There is no evidence to suggest that imprisonment helps to address substance use disorders. In no case should prison, or the involuntary confinement of those arrested on drug charges in labor camps, be equated with evidence-based drug treatment. Such approaches need to be phased out and replaced by modern, research-validated best practices.
•We Must Work to Reduce Drug Use to Reduce Drug Consequences.
The best way to reduce the substantial harms associated with drugs is to reduce drug use itself. Public health services for drug users, including HIV interventions for people who inject drugs, should be implemented in the context of comprehensive, recovery-oriented public health systems that also provide drug users access to treatment for addiction. Policies and programs that increase or sustain harm, such as injection rooms and drug legalization should be opposed because they would not lead to decreases in drug use or its consequences.
We should support research on various methods of treatment, including use of medication-assisted therapies. We should recognize that it may take some time—and several relapses—for those struggling with a substance use disorder to firmly establish their recovery. Nonetheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the purpose of public health interventions for those with substance use disorders is to end drug use. Any policies or programs that accept permanent drug dependence should be opposed. This opposition is grounded in the recognition that addiction is a disease and the belief that we cannot give up on individuals struggling with substance use disorders.
•We should Reform Criminal Justice Systems to Support both Public Health and Public Safety.
Criminal justice systems play a vital role in breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and re-arrest. While individuals should be held responsible for breaking the law, the criminal justice system should help bring them into contact with treatment services if they are suffering from a substance use disorder. This includes providing treatment services in correctional facilities, providing alternatives to incarceration such as drug courts for non-violent drug involved offenders, and using monitoring, drug testing, and other means to ensure recovery from illegal drug use.
The criminal justice system is a vital component of anti-drug efforts, but it must be deployed smartly. I have spent my career in law enforcement, prior to serving as President Obama’s drug policy advisor. It is essential that we must make a very clear distinction between those whose criminal acts are driven by their drug addiction, even if they are involved in drug sales, and those that are significant criminals. The first group must be directed into supervised treatment so their underlying addiction can be addressed. The second group must face justice. Professionals in law enforcement know the difference between hardened criminals and violent gang leaders and those that have been drawn into criminal activities by their substance use problem. We must be very careful to not lump both groups together.
As I have discussed justice reform issues with colleagues around the world it has become very clear that many nations do not have sufficient alternatives to incarceration available to them. To put these programs in place significant policy and legal changes must often be made. The United States is eager to provide any technical assistance we can on this issue—and to learn from the experience of other nations. Together we must move forward in increasing the availability—in all our countries—of effective alternatives to incarceration.
These are just four of the ten principles—I hope that you will take the time to read the full document and can find a way to use it within your own countries. I recognize that it will require a long-term, sustained, serious effort to ensure that truth prevails in the global drug policy debate. Agenda-driven advocates who stand in the way of science-based drug policies will always seek to undermine mainstream efforts to protect public health and safety. But we remain united and look forward to working with all of you to ensure that all of those struggling with substance use disorders receive the help they so desperately need while also protecting public safety. Thank you very much for your attention today and for the vitally important work each of you does on this critical issue.
• Fotnot: 1 Source: The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, “Sweden’s successful drug policy: a review of the evidence” pg.12 (February 2007)
• PRINCIPLES OF MODERN DRUG POLICY
The three United Nations drug control conventions are the foundation of the global effort to reduce drug use and its consequences. To implement the conventions in the 21st century, the United States commits itself to the following principles and encourages other nations to do the same:
1. Ensure Balanced, Compassionate, and Humane Drug Policies. Modern drug policies must acknowledge that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Public health and public safety initiatives are complementary and equally vital to achieving reductions in drug use and its consequences. The drug policy challenge facing the world today is not a choice between an enforcement-only “war on drugs” on the one hand and the extreme notion of drug legalization on the other. Rather, the challenge lies in combining cost-effective, evidence-based approaches that protect public health and safety.
2. Integrate Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Services into Public Health Systems. Public health approaches, such as evidenced-based prevention, screening and brief interventions in healthcare settings, drug treatment programs, and recovery support services, are vital components of an effective drug control strategy. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that drug prevention, treatment, and recovery services are cost-effective ways to reduce drug use and its consequences.
3. Protect Human Rights. Respect for human rights is an integral part of drug policy. Citizens, especially children, have the right to be safe from illegal drug use and associated crime, violence, and other consequences—whether in their family or the community. Drug-involved offenders who have contact with the criminal justice system deserve to be supervised with respect for their basic human rights and be provided with services to treat their underlying substance use disorder.
4. Reduce Drug Use to Reduce Drug Consequences. The best way to reduce the substantial harms associated with drugs is to reduce drug use itself. Public health services for drug users, including HIV interventions for people who inject drugs, should be implemented in the context of comprehensive, recovery-oriented public health systems that also provide drug users access to treatment for addiction. Policies and programs such as injection rooms, drug distribution efforts, and drug legalization should be opposed because they tolerate drug use and allow the debilitating disease of addiction to continue untreated.
5. Support and Expand Access to Medication-Assisted Therapies. Recent innovations in medication-assisted therapies have demonstrated increasing effectiveness in reducing drug use and its consequences. These medications should be further studied to identify new therapies and best practices in program implementation.
6. Reform Criminal Justice Systems to Support both Public Health and Public Safety. Criminal justice systems play a vital role in breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and re-arrest. While individuals should be held responsible for breaking the law, the criminal justice system should help bring them into contact with treatment services if they are suffering from a substance use disorder. This includes providing treatment services in correctional facilities, providing alternatives to incarceration such as drug courts for non-violent drug-involved offenders, and using monitoring, drug testing, and other means to ensure recovery from illegal drug use.
7. Disrupt Drug Trafficking. Transnational criminal organizations should be targeted with a focus on the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of drug traffickers, the seizure of illegal assets, disruption of drug production networks, control of precursor chemicals, and the eradication of illegal drug crops. International cooperation on information exchange, extradition, and training and technical assistance should be strengthened to eliminate safe harbors for transnational criminal organizations.
8. Address the Drug Problem as a Shared Responsibility. Drug use, production, and trafficking are increasingly globalized problems and pose challenges to all of our nations. Because of the global nature of today’s drug markets, international cooperation is essential to protect public health and safety.
9. Support the UN Drug Conventions: The three UN Drug Conventions are the foundation of our global drug control efforts and are effective in their current form. Efforts to renegotiate the Conventions should be opposed.
10. Protect Citizens from Drugs: Drugs are illegal because their use is dangerous not only to users but to society as a whole. We are committed to protecting all citizens, including those in recovery, from the tragic consequences of illegal drug use.
WORLD FORUM AGAINST DRUGS SPEECH
Presentation by Gus Jaspert, Deputy Director and Head of Drugs and Alcohol in the Home Office, United Kingdom
Thank you. It is a great pleasure to be here. I am delighted to see so many colleagues from all over the world – I feel already humbled by the collective experience and insights in the room. Welcome to you all and thank you for inviting me to join you. I think it’s extremely important that we all share our experiences, evidence and best practices and learn from each other.
OVERVIEW - DRUGS POLICY A FAILURE?
As the lead on the UK’s drug strategy –covering our action across the whole of government from prevention to health to enforcement to tackle the harm from drugs – I thought I would talk a bit about our learning and our approach - some of the successes that we have had in the UK and the challenges that still remain. But before I start I should probably declare whether I think I am, and the policies I lead are, and in a sense whether we all in this room are, a failure or not. For there has been a lot of noise from some which you will all be familiar with about drugs policy having ‘failed’ –and calls to abandon approaches. So has our balanced drugs policy of control alongside prevention and treatment failed? Well the evidence is telling its own story.
We’ve invested in the collection of information from multiple sources on different aspects of drug use and harm. Although we won’t claim success when there is still so much harm from drugs the numbers and evidence show encouraging signs of change:
• We should start by remembering that the vast majority of people do not take drugs
• England and Wales has around the lowest recorded level of drug use in the adult population since our measurements began in 1996. Individuals reporting use of any drug in the last year fell significantly from 11.1% in 1996 to 8.8% 2010/11.
• We have also seen a substantial fall in the use of cannabis from 9.5% to 6.8% and although there has been an increase in individuals using cocaine in the longer term there are signs that this too is starting to decline with a significant reduction in powder cocaine use between 2009/10 and 2010/11.
• This scale of reduction is also mirrored in younger adults aged 16-24 where there have been significant reductions between 1996 and 2010/11 in the use of any drug, any class A drug and any stimulant drug. The use of cannabis in the last year for example reduced from 26% to 17.1% over this time period.
• Drug use among school aged children in England has also reduced. In 2010 12% reported taking drugs in the last year compared with 20% in 2001.
• We have also seen the first significant drop in estimates of the number of heroin and/or crack cocaine users in England [from 321,229 in 2008/09 to 306,150 in 2009/10]. There are also strong signs that young people are not starting to use heroin and crack cocaine to the same degree as previous generations with significant drops in the number of heroin and/or crack cocaine users under the age of 35 and the number of young people aged 18-24 presenting to treatment for opiate use more than halving from 11,309 in 2005/06 to 5,532 in 2010/11.
• The use of drugs is down, but still too high. So – I am not going to claim success. Nor can I claim we can link every intervention to every result. But we have a lot to contest the notion of failure. And I want to focus on what we think works and believe we should focus the debate on the evidence and how we can do more of what works.
So, what lies behind our approach?
Firstly, our strategy is committed to a balanced approach – covering restricting the supply of drugs, reducing demand and building recovery: supporting people to live free of drugs. And we take the principle of shared responsibility seriously – both in reducing demand at home and supporting efforts overseas.
Drugs use is a complex policy issue and at its heart is about individuals and communities. Single policy responses will fail to address this complexity. The use of illegal drugs causes significant impact to the social and economic well being of the UK. Our last estimate (which we are updating) put the cost to the UK of harm of the illegal drugs market was approximately £15.4 billion per year (to put this in to context this is more than our entire police budget). Tackling drugs requires tough enforcement alongside individual centred policies to prevent addiction, reduce harm and help those recover.
And we know the vast majority of the public are on our side in controlling illicit drugs. Both in terms of not using drugs, but also on the acceptability of drugs in society. In the UK, almost two-thirds (65%) thought that it was never acceptable to take cannabis occasionally. Around nine in ten adults (91%) thought it never acceptable to take cocaine occasionally; and the vast majority (98%) thought it never acceptable to take heroin occasionally.
Communities do not want to be blighted by the effects of drug misuse and drug dealing. We estimate that drug users commit about a third to half of all acquisitive (burglary, theft) crime. Our research says that treatment works and reduces wider societal harms- for every £1 spent on drug treatment £2.50 is saved to society. We have expanded treatment capacity on the basis of good evidence and are now seeing better outcomes than ever before. But this is not an either / or of treatment or a criminal justice response. We are effectively using the Criminal Justice System to divert drug users into treatment – 30% of treatment referrals come from the Criminal Justice System and we know that there is no difference in user outcomes between those referred in to treatment by the CJS and those self-referred. The UK Drug Intervention programme – DIP - provides a core part of the referral system; in 2010/11 14% of new treatment journeys were a result of arrest referral/DIP. This looks wider for indicators and opportunities to use the CJS to get people in to treatment. Offenders arrested for ‘trigger offences’ such as burglary or theft are tested and referred in to treatment to cut their addiction and drive to offend. We estimate this approach reduces almost 680,000 crimes a year. Rather than being at opposing ends of a policy debate criminal justice and treatment interventions deliver positive outcomes together.
Of course, our efforts to tackle drugs do not stop at the UK border. We are firmly committed to working with international partners to ensure the presence of tough and focussed enforcement efforts to disrupt traffickers at source or in transit countries.
We can only take on the drug traffickers if we do so together, sharing experiences, information and intelligence.
Drug traffickers are opportunists. They spot gaps and exploit them. We need to help each other to identify those gaps in capacity and to work together to address them.
Between us we have a great deal of experience and expertise. We should do more to focus that expertise to ensure that our counter narcotics capacities are strong and comprehensive at all points along all drugs routes – whether that be heroin from Afghanistan, cocaine from Latin America or new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’), precursor chemicals and cutting agents from China and India.
We’ve had a great deal of success, but more is needed. The key to unlocking that success is collaborative and comprehensive cooperation.
TREATMENT - RECOVERY
Secondly, one of the key aims of the UK Drug Strategy has been to move our approach to a recovery focused system. This is a fundamental shift in attitude in the UK, and one that we will continue to build on. We have a well developed treatment system and are changing the commissioning models to incentive supporting people to become free from addictions rather than continue to pay for failure. We are
piloting new models of paying providers by the results so that treatment providers will only get the full funding if they achieve success tackling the users dependency, offending and improving their health.
Our latest findings show promise . Recent findings from the National Treatment Agency show that there has been a jump in the number of people completing treatment: [27,969 this year compared to 23,680 last year], an annual increase of 18% (and a 150% increase since 2005/06). We have also seen a fall in the number of people entering treatment for addiction to illegal drugs, including a reduction of almost 10,000 in the number of heroin and crack users coming into treatment in just two years. We believe this is due to less demand for services rather than a lack of access to services – the average wait for treatment is now only five days.
EVIDENCE AND DATA
Thirdly we have invested in the collation, analysis and dissemination of evidence and data and we use that evidence in our policy making. Better information is crucial to understanding the current situation, future scenarios and potential responses. In the UK, we are developing for the first time an evaluation framework across our whole drugs strategy - which sets out the existing evidence base and the gaps where better evaluation is required. And crucially it will help us to assess the effectiveness and value for money of our Drug Strategy. As every government faces tough budget choices it’s critical we understand the value for money return on our interventions.
I would gladly share our findings with a wider audience and would encourage others to share their evidence so that we can learn from each other – what works, what we should do more of, what is having the biggest impact. Wouldn’t it be great if we could focus the global debate on drugs on building and using our evidence to reduce harm rather than polarised policy arguments.
We are starting to turn the tide on drug use, but we need to ensure we keep ahead of new challenges.
The UK has seen - along with many other countries - a new and emerging phenomenon – the rapid increase in the availability of a wide variety of new psychoactive substances (mostly synthetics). They are often referred to as “legal highs” – but we should be clear that these are drugs, some with known harms, but more often with unknown harms. I think as an international community, we must improve our messaging on these substances and the way we convey the risks and the legality to the public and in particular young people. We cannot simply say that legal = safe and illegal = harmful.
These substances came to prominence in the european community in the mid 1990s but the issue has now intensified quite dramatically, particularly with the use of the internet as a tool for the sale and information sharing about these drugs. Since January 2011, the UK has identified 18 new psychoactive substances, some already controlled substances, but not ever seen before in the UK. Few have taken hold in the market but they can spread rapidly – mephedrone in a matter of just a few years become the second most popular drug amongst under 24 year olds in the UK (behind cannabis, alongside cocaine).
To date, the UK has taken a range of action in tackling new psychoactive substances. We have improved our knowledge through developing early warning systems. We have continued to introduce generic drug legislation to help combat those that look to circumvent our domestic controls. We are taking action against the internet trade. The Serious Organised Crime Agency – SOCA - working with industry partners, has taken action against websites which continued to advertise mephedrone and naphyrone for sale following their respective bans. In 2010/11 over 120 websites were closed as a result of SOCA action, disrupting the supply of these drugs.
Last year, we also introduced new legislation which allows us to bring a substance under temporary control - with criminal offences and significant penalties targeted at distributors and sellers of these drugs - while we consider further the harms it poses.
Last month, the UK used the temporary class drug order for the first time – when methoxetamine, an analogue of ketamine, became a temporary class drug following
our concern – supported by our experts - about its toxicity and increasing availability in the UK.
And we are adapting the balanced approach to put prevention, treatment and enforcement together.
Last week, we published our own new psychoactive substance action plan. It draws on the balanced approach - adapting it for these drugs and substances that can often bypass traditional production and supply routes and potentially open up new markets of new users. In it, we reaffirm our commitment to keeping the effectiveness and impact of our legal framework for new psychoactive substances under review and consider new evidence on what works, including the use elsewhere of different types of legislation, for example analogue legislation. We will also consider consumer protection type legislation – as this may have a greater role to play in responding to new psychoactive substances, alongside action to control substances where there are concerns of harms. And we want greater information and education for the public about the harms of these drugs.
We also want to take decisive action and work with partners across the world now to get ahead of these new substances. At the UN recently we co-led a new resolution to encourage the international community to tackle the threat from new psychoactive substances, improve their monitoring, research, analysis and forensic capability and share this information with each other.
So in summary we believe we have made some positive steps and have had some success. But we still have a long way to go. We just published our priorities for the drugs strategy this year and would like to learn from others and discuss approaches, building on evidence of what works.
In the UK, fewer people are taking drugs, more drug users are recovering from addiction, fewer need treatment, and more are getting over their addiction quickly. This isn’t about passing and failing. It’s not a choice between legalisation and harsh punishments or between harm reduction and recovery. This is about protecting the public from harm and supporting those that do misuse drugs to recover from their dependence. In essence it is the two most critical elements of government responsibility – protecting its citizens from harm and enabling all to contribute to society. We have a lot still to achieve and I look forward to listening and learning from your experiences and working together on these issues in the future.
Thank you very much.
Publicerad: 2012-05-21 17:09
Uppdaterad: 2012-05-22 11:09